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Tour of the Gila downtown bike race 5-4-13

Monday, May 06, 2013

Every year in our rural community we have a big bicycle race come to town. It lasts 5 days and has professional teams from all over the world come in. It's kind of a small scale race similar to the Tour de France huge race in France. Races race up and down mountain hills in our area. It starts on Wednesday and ends on Sunday. On Saturday of the event there is always races downtown, called the Criterium races. I hardly ever go down to it, but this past Saturday I did. I had a good time watching the racers. I thought I'd share some pictures from this event. I can barely ride a bike a short distance, so these racers amaze me at how fast they can go, how most of the time they race in a pack and not run into each other (most of the time anyway) and how they can climb mountains on their bikes. In the downtown race there is a 1 mile course. The professionals go around that 1 mile course differing amounts of times, for different categories. Some do 22 miles (22 loops), some 13 miles, 16 miles, and later in the day is the 27, 32, and 43 mile professional races. Lots of times to go around the same 1 miles route. Lots of quick turns at the corners. There are also some "civilian" races from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm. Those are shorter courses. One time around the loop for most age groups for a mile, younger kids races are shorter. There is also other things downtown like food vendors, a beer garden, a bike safety rodeo for kids, some live music, etc. I took my 8 year old granddaughter Bethany with me and we met her grandpa downtown, where she stayed with him. I went walking around. My 10 year old granddaughter Keyana had spent the night with a friend, and we ran into them downtown. Keyana's friend was racing in the 7 to 9 year old group.

As I got to the downtown area, the beer gardens and vendors were set up but weren't too busy yet. Some people downtown (this was about 9:30 am) but more would be there later in the day.

One of the professional men's categories was racing at the time.

Dropped off Bethany with her grandfather (my ex) and said I'd be back in a while. I followed the race course through town and up around the course.

This is a bad corner for accidents when they come around the corner fast and they have tires stacked to run into instead of the high cement sidewalk at this corner.

Turned the corner and followed the course up towards the county courthouse. It doesn't take them long to go around the 1 miles and the racers are coming around the circle again by the time I'm halfway up the street.

I turn the corner just below the courthouse and continue to follow the route as they are coming around yet again.

Continuing up that street I catch them again as they are topping a hill. When I first got toward the downtown area, an ambulance was leaving with its lights on. Talking to one of the volunteers along the course I was told that a rider had wrecked at the top of this hill a little while ago. They said that his bike flew up in the air and he hit the pavement hard and didn't move for a little while. By the time they loaded him in the ambulance he was sitting up. Never heard what type of injuries he got. Hope he's okay thought. They have volunteers stationed every block who start yelling down the line "riders coming" and ring cowbells so they can make sure no pedestrians are crossing the street or in the way of the riders. At the speeds they go that would be disastrous. I am thinking maybe next year I'll volunteer to help with this. There is a motorcycle rider in a referee shirt in front and another in back of the pack.

This street heads down to the corner where the library is. They come up and turn on it.

Ambulances are stationed at a few different places along the course.

This looks down toward the main street where the race starts at.

At this point I didn't head back toward town but wanted to get more walking and hills in for my fitbit so I turned the opposite way an walked uphill around the university and down some other streets for a while. I got back downtown a little before the start of the citizens races. I wanted to watch the kids races. Beer gardens and vendors were getting busier. Live music was playing and 3 people were out there dancing around to the music. The woman on the left was holding onto her wheelchair for support and dancing to the music.

Now there were a lot more people downtown and the sidewalks were crowded walking through them. I got to where Bethany was and her cousin (another one of my granddaughters living with me) came by with her friend Jada who was headed to enter the kids race. Bethany and I went to find them after a few minutes and watch Jada race.

This is some of the kids waiting by the staging area for their races. Adult races are first though.

My granddaughter Keyana and her friend Jada waiting for Jada's race.

These were the 13 to 16 year olds I think. Boys raced first, then girls. They do the 1 miles loop. Then after that were the 10-12 year olds, also doing 1 mile.

One of the girls, I can't remember which age group of these 2 groups, crashed into the tires at the end of the street coming around the corner. She got up, got back on the bike, and still finished ahead of a lot of the others.

Then the kids age 7 - 9 were getting ready to start off. They were announcing boys and girls would be racing together, but changed it at the last minute to have it do them separately. I think they had more entrants in this age group than they had expected. This group does 1/2 mile, up towards one end of the street, around an orange cone, then back past the finish line to the other end of the street by the tires and around another cone and back to the finish line. Here are the boys taking off.

Then the girls with Keyana's friend Jada (in the red helmet) in this group.

After rounding the first cone Jada was in the lead. When they came back from circling the second cone though she was 2nd. But she won 2nd place and that was awesome for her.

The next group was the 5-6 year old boys, then girls. They also did the 1/2 mile. Jada's little brother did this race. He didn't get any top places though. But they had fun.

Then the highlight and the group everyone was waiting for. The 3 & 4 year olds. They start down the street 400 feet and race to the finish line. It is a little bit uphill through there.

Some parents were running with the kids and cheering them on. Some of the kids look so happy.

This poor little girl wrecked just inches from the finish line. She was okay though.

It was a lot of fun to watch them. By then Keyana left with her friend and me and Bethany were tired and kind of hot. So we headed home then. The professional racers had more races all afternoon.

Hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of our big event here.

Have a great day!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great report with lots of photos !!
    You got to see professional racers, citizen races and kids races all in the same day along with some town street entertainment, so cool
    Good race for your grand daughter !!
    1798 days ago
    I love to ride, but know I wouldn't race...hate them being close like that. And after my bike accident last week (details are in my new blog) , I know FOR SURE I would not do that! Looks like fun though-glad your GD had a good time and raced in it. Looks like a nice place too. Good to see so many who like to bike and exercise! I wish more would do it around here-our rails to trails are always empty, except for maybe a few here and there! Sad!
    1798 days ago
    Love cycling. I watch it on TV. We have a bike ride in the bahamas, it's not competitive it's to raise money for charity and I participate. It's amazing how those people ride all these miles day after day, hill after hill. I don't think it is humanely possible.

    Great pictures
    1799 days ago
    Wow, what a beautiful downtown. How exciting to have your granddaughter in the race. I love to cycle, but I down think I could race. I don't like to be so close to other cyclist.
    1800 days ago
    Thanks for sharing such an exciting event! How precious that the children get to participate!
    1804 days ago
    Great blog!
    1807 days ago
    Looks fun!
    1809 days ago
    What a great time!

    1809 days ago
    What a great event! I especially like the fact that it includes professionals, civilians and kids of all ages. Does the event raise money for the town or for a charity or cause? It's also fun seeing your town. It looks very western and VERY hilly!
    1810 days ago
    Terrific pictures. Sad news here in Albuquerque - due to the Boston attack and security measures, the local triathalon was cancelled. It's been going on 36 years already. (Actually, I didn't know we even had a triathalon here!) emoticon emoticon (can't find a swim icon)
    1810 days ago
  • STRINGI719
    What an awesome event in your community! But I have to admit, my favorite part wasn't the bike races... it was the woman who was standing, holding on to her wheelchair, and dancing to the music!!!
    1811 days ago
    Sounds like we are kind of neighbors since you live in SW NM. We live east of El Paso, right after you cross into Hudspeth County. Great pictures of the ride. Poor little girl that crashed at the finish line. So cute.
    1811 days ago
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    1811 days ago
    1811 days ago
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